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Electric Counterpoint

February 1, 2013

I started my new job this week. I didn’t actually leave my old job; I’m just adding on more things like adding an extra room to your house. Except that, since I still have the same number of hours in which to do it, it’s more like adding an extra room to your house without making the rooms any smaller or taking up any more square footage. Sounds like a physical impossibility? Probably. But I’m giving it a try anyway.

It’s not like starting a new job in many respects. Even the new things I’m doing are like things I’ve done before. But everything’s a little different. There are new software programs to learn, new procedures to figure out. There lots of people to meet, and others, whom I already know, that I have to get to know in a new way. In the 4 days I was in the office this week, I had 26 hours of meetings. Note that according to my contract, I work a 35 hour week. My schedule this week would imply that I could take today off, but of course, it doesn’t really work that way. I’m reminded of my first weeks at the Toy Factory where I spent most of my time trying to figure out where stuff is and who does what. I come home both exhausted and wired, which tends to lead to new-job insomnia. I woke up this morning exhausted as if I’ve run a marathon. I’m very glad for some quiet, work-at-home time to catch up on things and for being able to avoid the gauntlet of my morning commute.

I’ve spent a lot of time this week getting to know the people I’ll be working with most and starting to make plans for how I want to proceed. It’s interesting work. I really like the other toymakers on the new projects. It’s been a pretty surprising week in many respects. And unfortunately, I can’t say much about it here. Suffice it to say that I’m feeling pretty well appreciated at the office. Not everything is resolved yet. For instance, I still don’t know what my job title is, which makes things a little awkward. My current title is tied to the toy I was hired to make and I’ve already arrived at an elaborate song and dance routine to get at what I’ll be doing without actually saying what that is. I have found myself going into meetings with the people whose work I’ll be supervising (although, in a quirk of the Toy Factory system, I’m not actually supervising the people themselves) and saying things like, “Has anyone talked to you yet about what I’ll be doing?” I’m hoping it comes off as a friendly introduction and not as, “Because could you tell me? I’m not sure,” which is probably closer to the truth at the moment.

I’m feeling at this particular moment rather reflective about my work at the Toy Factory. I have surprised myself in many ways, but especially in the way that, while feeling profoundly incompetent, I have acted like I know exactly what I’m doing — to the point that I’ve had frequent, “I can’t believe I just said that” moments. And somewhere in the process, I’ve started to believe that I actually do know what I’m doing. At least some of the time. I’m not surprised at the way I’ve chosen to challenge the system when I didn’t think it is working, but I am surprised the degree to which I have been willing to go to the mat to fight a culture that has been doing things in a completely different way for a long time. I’m now seeing that culture changing a bit from the push. I can’t take all the credit. There are many others involved. I think I’ve just been noisier in the right ways.

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